The news that local television station Television Jamaica, TVJ had got exclusive rights to broadcast the U.S. music reality programme The Voice, in the island resulted in a twitter tirade from local fans of the programme on Monday. However it seemed that TVJ might redeem itself by coming up with a compromise that would allow for live viewing of the programme locally. Surely the twitter tea cup storm would be abated but it was not to be.
The NBC show has just begun a new season and what is of particular interest to local audiences is that Jamaican Tessanne Chin has advanced past the opening round.
Reaction to the TVJ acquisition, was swift and not complimentary. Whether it was the shock of discovering that the show could not be accessed directly from originating station NBC via cable or the idea that the broadcast on TVJ would be delayed, the twussing (twitter cussing) came thick, fast and often explicit.
A certain section of the Jamaican twitterati did not mince words, some straightforward annoyance and questioning of the decision and the impact it may have on the swell of pride and support for Tessanne Chin as the show continues into the live rounds, were among the themes of comments.
Later on there were some bold enough to tweet against the tide and welcome the decision to bring the show to the cable haves and have nots. Meanwhile others noted that all this was happening on a day when chicken prices and water rates were raised. Perhaps in the face of this people wanted some reliable escapist entertainment to take their mind of these and other troubles and they wanted it live.
Sports fans noted, that blocking cable channels in the light of local TV exclusive rights to content, was nothing new to them. If anything the twitteraction is an indication that if both the NBC feed and the TVJ broadcast of the same programme was available many would opt for the former.
It may have seemed like a good idea at the time and maybe it was, a quick thinking sponsorship coup, but it began disintegrating with successive tweets and retweets.
Soon via twitter, both Digicel the sponsors of the broadcasts and the TVJ General Manager, advised that a solution was being sought. The TVJ GM addressed her tweeps, which I imagine in social or perhaps anti-social media parlance means friends, though I doubt the twussers saw it like that.
Later it was announced that the show would be live on cable companion station RETV with a rebroadcast on TVJ later.
It was unfortunate for TVJ that perhaps it was just one of the days when Murphy was trying to prove his law, but things did not turn out well on Tuesday. The live broadcast on RETV wasn’t, the apology was late and grammatically incorrect. Matters were not helped by the showing of promos over and over, especially one that proudly announced in the midst of the mess, that this was real Jamaican TV. The programme appeared briefly on JNN but it was missing an essential element in a singing show, sound. Finally RETV found its sound and vision and the show was on but with an additional electronic buzz.
Tuesday’s show was a compilation of the best of the blind auditions and some additional bits, given that, TVJ maybe has some time to sort out the technical problems, do damage control and perhaps rally support from loyal viewers, and they are out there, the real TVJ tweeps.
It has never been easy to do local television in Jamaica, a small market with a small advertising pie. It is more challenging these days with cable operators giving consumers such a multitude of choice, making money from cable, phone, internet and advertising. Meanwhile local free to air television stations compete on a lean playing field, made up of cable, internet, YouTube and competition from other local media entities offering video.
Playing the local card is one of the main options open to them, as well as bringing local sensibility to international events. For example paying for Caribbean coverage of the Olympics where commentators tell you who wins a race even if it is not the U.S. There is also support for local programmes some have been running for decades.
The twitter reaction to the Voice issue, suggests TVJ was going to be damned if it did and damned if it didn’t.
What would be the reaction of those without cable access, if they couldn’t get a chance to see the Jamaican interest in this U.S. show like cable viewers? Watchers on cable got a taste of being locked out of the live loop in a time of twitter and facebook, on Tuesday and they didn’t like it much.
If TVJ can sort out whatever technical issues there have been, this like many other things may be forgiven if not forgotten and the station and the rest of us can enjoy a different kind of buzz about the Voice, one that is not about where, when and how you watch but has all to do with Tessanne and entertainment.